The Office of the General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued Memorandum GC 15-04, which aims to discuss “cases raising significant legal or policy issues” when it comes to employee handbooks.

In the memorandum, which is fairly lengthy at 30 pages, Richard F. Griffin Jr., the general counsel, warns that his office (and the NLEB) will generally find rules contained in employee handbooks in violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) if “the rule has a chilling effect on employees Section 7 activity” rights to “protected, concerted activity” at work.

Such activity can range from water cooler discussions about conditions at work to union organizing itself.

Griffin further explains:  “Even if a rule does not explicitly prohibit Section 7 activity, however, it will still be found unlawful if 1) employees would reasonably construe the rule’s language to prohibit Section 7 activity; 2) the rule was promulgated in response to union or other Section 7 activity; or 3) the rule was actually applied to restrict the exercise of Section 7 rights.”

You can download Memorandum GC 15-04 here. It is considered “must reading” by lawyers who have reviewed the document.

It’s probably a good to review and update your company’s employee handbook in the light of recent NLRB guidance. You can use our convenient employee online handbook creator to create your new publication for sharing and distribution.